Frost Protection for Vertical Gardens

Harsh winters can be hard on outdoor plant walls. Here are some ways to protect your vertical garden from frost and freezing.

Add Christmas Lights

Incandescent Christmas lights emit just enough heat to keep the frost away. Also available are netted Christmas lights that come in a sheet. These can be easily draped over the plant wall to keep it warm through the coldest days.

Add Heating Elements Behind the Living Wall

Electrical elements can be installed behind the vertical garden before the system goes up. This internal heating system can keep it warm when temperatures drop below freezing. The system can be automated to come on by thermostat as needed. Alternatively hot water tubing can be run behind the wall and connected to an existing interior hot water system.


Adding up lights at the base of the garden not only looks amazing but can also provide just enough heat to keep the plants happy during the frosty months. Incandescent or metal halide lights make just enough heat that will rise upward on the wall to keep plants nice and cozy.

Plant Seasonally Every Year

Some climates are just too harsh to practically keep a plant while alive. You can simply plan on planting fresh plants every spring. Save money by starting with seeds and include annuals with lots of bright floral color. Grasses will fill in nicely then die back each year which can be trimmed back and will often reseed themselves.

Can living walls tolerate freezing weather?

Florafelt Pocket Panels can be used seasonally and stored for winter or you can create a winter cover that includes lights to keep the temperature high enough to keep the plants safe from frost. The Florafelt Living Walls themselves are made from PET plastics that can withstand below freezing temperatures.

Perennials and conifers will be your best performers in cold weather. In winter plants will go dormant or may freeze so there may be replacements in spring.

Some great examples of plants that can survive freezing: Conifers, heuchera, japanese feather grass, ivy, various year round perennials, hellebores. There can be some dieback, that is expected.

There are solutions that add warmth to the living wall. One method includes the use of halogen up-lighting at the base of the wall to provide extra warmth during the coldest periods. Another option is to run radiant heat tubing behind the wall to add a bit of warmth during freezing temperatures. The downside is the additional energy required.

A more community inclusive and ecological option is to get the on-site gardening team or outside creative garden service to plant flowering annuals each spring to create a colorful display for most of the year. In winter season the pockets can be filled or covered up with holiday themed seasonal decorations. This is a great opportunity for local creative talent to express artful designs throughout the year. Florafelt Pockets can allow for many interpretations.

Cover your Vertical Garden with Clear Plastic

When You’re Expecting a freeze, cover your vertical garden with lightweight plastic sheeting. If it’s against an existing interior wall then it will get just enough heat from the house to keep it warm and just above freezing. If it’s out on it’s own or mounted to a super-insulated house you’ll need to add some warmth.

During the most frigid winter in years, this monumental living wall is surviving with a clever frost protection method in Cleveland’s Hingetown neighborhood.

Bubblewrap makes a compact insulated greenhouse

Lumber edging provides sturdy support for the bubble wrap, keeping it in place during high winds. Radiating building warmth provides just enough heat in the planted area to keep it from freezing. The system provides a mini greenhouse to give the plants warmth and light for minimal photosynthesis during their dormant stage.

Winter Protection. Florafelt Living Wall by Marika Shiori Clark, Hingetown, Cleveland, Ohio.
Winter Protection. Florafelt Living Wall by Marika Shiori Clark, Hingetown, Cleveland, Ohio.
Winter Protection. Florafelt Living Wall by Marika Shiori Clark, Hingetown, Cleveland, Ohio.
Bubble wrap is used to cover a living wall in Cleveland, Ohio.